'Feisty' Tsitsipas Overcomes Match-Points Hiccup
A few centimetres nearly changed the trajectory of Stefanos Tsitsipas’ Western & Southern Open quarter-final against Felix Auger-Aliassime. But the Greek maintained his focus to earn a spot in the last four in Cincinnati.
Despite letting slip two match points in the second set, Tsitsipas defeated Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 after two hours and 12 minutes to reach the semi-finals at this tournament for the second consecutive year. But the second seed’s victory did not come drama-free.
“Tennis is a psychological game and things like this happen. It’s important to just stick to your roots and what you are doing best,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. “It might not have been ideal in the second set, especially when I made so many opportunities and had such a good opportunity to close it a bit earlier. But with a lot of patience and just trying to find that opportunity in the third set, I was stepping in, I was really determined and I didn’t let go.”
For most of the first two sets, the Greek was in full control. Tsitsipas played with patient aggression to take a 6-2, 5-4 15/40 lead as a physically impeded Auger-Aliassime struggled to find rhythm. But on the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion’s second match point on the Canadian’s serve, Felix hit a backhand that barely clipped the back of the baseline.
The ball was so close that Tsitsipas thought it was out and he had won the match. But instead, that served as a turning point as Auger-Aliassime — who took an injury timeout at 2-3 in the set to get treatment on his left side — found better balance in his game to quickly turn the table and send the battle to a third set.
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But after taking a bathroom break, Tsitsipas returned to court refreshed. The match points he lost did not cause any panic. Auger-Aliassime gifted his opponent an early break in the third with a sprayed forehand wide, and the Greek never looked back, storming through the decider without facing a break point.
“[I was] determined, fierce and feisty when I had to be. I’m just filled with many emotions right now,” Tsitsipas said. “Things got really tough at some point and I had to find different solutions and come up with some new ideas and I followed through. [I] made it a choice of mine to step in with aggression and build up the game.”
Any hopes of a late comeback by the Canadian were dashed when Auger-Aliassime struck his seventh double fault to give the second seed a second break. But the 21-year-old will leave Cincinnati confident after advancing to his second ATP Masters 1000 final, including a win over close friend Matteo Berrettini, the Wimbledon finalist.
Auger-Aliassime dominated his rivalry with Tsitsipas from the juniors through their early years as professionals. But Tsitsipas has firmly taken control of their ATP Head2Head series, now leading 5-2 thanks to five consecutive wins.
The second seed suffered a tough three-set lost last week in the Toronto semi-finals against Reilly Opelka. But he has rebounded well in Ohio with three victories to advance to the last four. Tsitsipas is trying to win his second Masters 1000 title after triumphing in Monte-Carlo earlier this season.